Financial expert on how to start preparing for the holiday shopping season

The Christmas season will be here before we know it. A financial expert recommends planning your Christmas finances now.

Financial professional Ryan Wheless of Allied Wealth appeared on KPRC 2+ to share tips on how to prepare financially for the holiday shopping season. For his insights, watch the video at the top of the page or read his tips below.

Q: HOW CAN OUR VACATION SPENDING AFFECT OUR OVERALL FINANCIAL SITUATION?

· It can be an important factor in our financial situation. In 2021, Americans spent $886.7 billion during the holiday season.

· Many of us are still reeling from the financial strains brought on by the pandemic. We may not have as much money for the holidays as in the past. Don’t go into debt for Christmas shopping.

· Debt prevents people from reaching their financial goals, such as building an emergency fund, buying a home, and saving for retirement.

· A big worry for retirees is running out of money, and being in debt amplifies that fear. At Allied Wealth, we give our clients the confidence that their retirement savings will last.

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Q: WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE TO START PLANNING FOR CHRISTMAS IN JULY?

1. Put pen to paper

· When it comes to our finances, always make a budget.

· Start by writing who you want to buy gifts for.

· Fill in gift ideas and, more importantly, a spending amount for each person on your list.

· Then check it twice! When you go shopping, make sure you stick to your budget.

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· You may have to cut from one area if you go over another.

· I have a vacation budget spreadsheet on my website, richaliada.com.

2. Savings on reservations

· Now that you know how much you want to spend, here comes the hard question: Do you have the money saved? Or are you gambling on your credit cards?

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· If you don’t have the funds, here’s the good news: You have four months to save.

· Look for areas in your overall budget where you can cut back. If you can find a way to save $25 a week, you’ll be in better shape come the holidays.

3. Leave your savings alone

· As the dollars start to roll in, resist the urge to spend this money on anything other than holiday gifts.

· I recommend putting your savings in a separate account dedicated solely to your holiday shopping budget.

· The same principle applies to your emergency fund: You should have three to six months of expenses set aside for emergencies.

· You may also want separate accounts for a vacation fund, a new car, or whatever else you’re saving for!

4. Negotiate a gift exchange

· Family dynamics will be different for everyone. If you’re part of a growing family or dealing with financial constraints, it might be time to readjust your gift-giving expectations.

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· You should do what is best for your situation. For example, large families can draw names and buy only one gift. Some families may buy gifts for the children and leave out the adults.

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· Whatever your circumstances, talking about it as soon as possible is key. Waiting to have the conversation could backfire if someone has already bought her gifts.

BONUS TIP: Use your RMDs

· Here’s an extra tip for retirees: You can set up your required minimum distributions to buy gifts for your grandkids or other family and friends.

· If you’re over 70½, the deadline to withdraw money from your 401(k) or IRA is probably the end of the year, and holiday gifts are a great use for your RMDs if you don’t need the money for living expenses.

· You can also use your RMDs for charitable donations.

· Talk to your financial professional to determine how much you need to withdraw and its terms.

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